My first copter build with RPi2 and Emlid Navio2

Focused on making clear every building step with helpful links and tips for total noobs (like me) who wants to get started with drones

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Trying to catch knowledge from drone forums and videos to build my first drone

In this project I am building quad copter with 250mm frame and Raspberry Pi 2 with Navio2 for flight controller. I no nothing about drones and uavs, that is why I am doing everything step-by-step with the help of manuals and forums.

x-zip-compressed - 450.50 kB - 10/27/2016 at 17:47



Top part for Anti-vibration mount, 3d-print ready stl

Standard Tesselated Geometry - 250.77 kB - 10/14/2016 at 13:05



Bottom part for Anti-vibration mount, 3d-print ready stl

Standard Tesselated Geometry - 276.55 kB - 10/14/2016 at 13:05


View all 20 components

  • flying videos

    Dmitriy11/10/2016 at 09:13 0 comments

    It's become very cold outside and there is a lot of snow, therefore I can't make video now. I'll try to make it ASAP.

View project log

  • 1
    Step 1

    Choosing the platform and components. Preaparing tools.

    I wasn't hesitating while choosing the platform I will use - definetely it's APM. The most important for me is that it has huge community and it gives a choice of hardware and software. The other significant thing - APM is an open source project and this can really expand future application of my drone.

    After reading this article I've started looking through forums and tutorials searching the components with the best quality-price ratio. So for the very first manual take off I'll need:

    1. Flight controller. (200 + 35 +7= 242$)

    For flight control I'll use Raspberry Pi 2 and Emlids Navio2. To get started easily there is all neccessery docs on the Emlid website. In addition you'll need wi-fi dongle for Rpi2, it will cost 7-10 more bucks.

    2. Copter frame (quad in my case) (11$)

    I will be using FPV250 frame just because I got it for free from my friend. Moreover I was told that this frame will be enough for the first build and learn.

    3. 4 motors with 4 electronic speed controllers. (24 + 36 = 60$)

    For my 250 mm frame I've chosen RCX 1804-2400 motors with Emax Simon 12A Electronics speed control modules. To say the truth here I've just made internet search for motors and ESCs suitable for my frame, but here is very good article for choosing motors. ESCs are installed between motors and flight controller and are responsible for spinning speed of motors depending on requested speed from Radio control or autopilot.

    4. Radio Control (RC): Transmitter and receiver (min. 6 channels). (60 + 73 = 133$)

    Here I was guided by this tutorial. I prefer to learn flying in Mode 2, I will aquire budget Turnigy 9X (see in the list of components) and 2.4 GHz RC module and receiver. If you are going to use Navio2 in your build make sure you will use receiver with the support of PPM/SBUS.

    5. Li-po battery and charger, Li-po checker (9 + 25 + 2 = 36$)

    After reading introduction to Li-Po batteries I have ordered for my copter Li-Po battery with capacity of 1500mAh with 3 Cells. In addition I've got Li-po battery charger and voltage checker. Make sure you've read carefully the article provided here about Li-Po, it is very important to follow all the instructions while working with such batteries.

    6. Propellers (4$)

    For choosing the right propellers I've observed for different projects and flying videos of my frame+motors combination. It seems like the only best option for 250mm frame are plastic 5030 propellers. A quadcopter uses two clockwise(CW) and two counter-clockwise(CCW) propellers. Propellers are classified by length and pitch. So if I am using 5030 propellers that means that they are 5 inch long and has a pitch of 3. Chosen propellers are rather fragile so you better buy few sets.

    7. Power Module (16$)

    To power all systems onboard of my quad I will need power module. It is providing a stable voltage (5.3V) and power supply of 2.25 Amp, this helps reduce the risk of electronics combustion. Moreover with power module we can monitor the battery capacity. Make sure you are ordering Power module with Df13 6Pin connector to provide connection of power module with autopilot.

    8. Power Distribution board (6$)

    You will need it to power ESCs (consequently motors) from power module.

    9. Choose Ground Control Station (read first)

    In few words GCS is a software which will be connected with your drone via telemetry and show you all data. With the GCS you will be able to change settings and configure all parts of your drone. I will use Mission Planner on my Windows 10. QGroundControl is also good.

    10. Connectors and cable ties, some tape, damping balls (~15$)

    You can find links to needed connectors and ties in the list of materials.

    As I understood from Ardupilot wiki, later I will need the following components for using the capabilities of autopilot:

    11. GPS-antenna (12$)

    12. Telemetry Radio

    Needed tools.

    It will be great if you'll have access to a Fab Lab or any Maker Space while building your drone. You'll definetely will need:

    1. 3d-printer.

    To print anti-vibration mount for Rpi2 and case for Navio2

    2. Hand tools like screwdrivers, etc.

    To make a sturdy assembly.

  • 2
    Step 2

    Preparing Raspberry Pi with Navio 2.

    While waiting for all the components to arrive I was playing with my Rpi2 and Navio 2. I won't copy here docs and instructions from here and here, I just recommend you to reproduce getting started and example steps from these resources.

    I won't waste time and fill this section with detailed tutorial with pics because other people already did this very well.

    To prepare you flight controller you should do the following:

    I recommend to use Etcher utility. Before installing SD card in Raspberry Pi, make sure you've changed "wpa_supplicant.conf" where you specified your Wi-fi SSID and Password.

    • Attach Raspberry to Navio2 according to the manual. Check twice that Navio2 is installed tightly, because that's the reason of having a lot of issues while configuring autopilot. Install SD card. Attach Wifi dongle if you're using RPi 2.
    • Power Rpi with USB-cable. I am powering my board from laptop usb port.
    • Install Nmap and Putty to login to Raspberry Pi. In NMap type "navio" and make search to find your RPi IP adress. Type found IP in Putty and connect via SSH to Rpi. Login is "pi", password is "raspberry".
  • 3
    Step 3

    Running Ardupilot and make it start automatically.

    First we should download Ardupilot. After you logged in navio type:

    sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get install apm-navio2
    This will install ardupilot. Be patient, it will take a while.

    Next thing we should do is to make ardupilot start automatically on boot. To successfully do this we should navigate to /etc/rc.local file on Raspberry pi:

    cd ../..
    cd etc/

    Open it:

    sudo nano rc.local

    and in insert the following in this file:

    sudo nohup ArduCopter-quad -A udp: -C /dev/ttyAMA0 > /home/pi/startup_log &

    where IP adress is an IP of your laptop with ground control station. To learn your IP open command line in Windows and type "ipconfig".

    In the end you should save and exit file using CTRL+X. Press Yes to save changes. After all this reboot your Rpi. After it will be reloaded an LED on Navio should be blinking.

    NOTE: Don't start examples while ardupilot is running. You will get incorrect data.

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Enjoy this project?



David Parry wrote 10/21/2017 at 06:05 point

My 3d printing software is complaining about the STL files you supplied for the vibro mounts. Any chance you could post the original CAD files so I can try exporting it myself?

Great project! I'm following along and building one myself.

  Are you sure? yes | no

Dmitriy wrote 02/17/2017 at 07:29 point

Hi Allen, 

Thanks for asking. 

First of all I had a chance to use Navio2 for free, 

Secondly it will perfectly satisfy my needs in future, it's winter season now and I don't have much testing opportunities to update project now. Still I am using this time to dive into theory and better understanding of Navio2 capabilities. 

  Are you sure? yes | no

EngineerAllen wrote 02/16/2017 at 23:49 point

why did you choose such an expensive flight control system?

  Are you sure? yes | no

Kim wrote 11/04/2018 at 04:18 point

Hi Engr. Allen, may I ask if there's a cheaper option other than Navio2?

  Are you sure? yes | no

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